Cyprus Mail
CM Regular ColumnistOpinion

Force Awakens a lazy, money-making option

By Johan van den Kerkhof

Star Wars fans should make the next movie

So utterly disgusted was I with the latest iteration in the Star Wars movie franchise that I vowed not to deign to waste a single brain cell or tire my dainty fingers typing up a review.

And yet here I sit, doing just that. My head is about to explode like a Death Star unless I let off some steam.

Where to begin? First up, a big shout-out to JJ Abrams and Disney. Thank you for messing it up, guys. Great job.

This is not a wish-list for the Force Awakens. No, that would be too presumptuous. It’s never about drawing up a checklist and then ticking it off. The opposite actually. As the lights dim in the theatre hall, movie-goers snuggle down, waiting with bated breath once the opening credits roll. We want to be surprised, to be transported to a make-believe world, to be awed. Isn’t that the name of the game with the silver screen?

Well, it used to be. Because the Force Awakens achieves none of that. Because by going for the easy, lazy money-making option, its makers succeed in pulling you out of the movie, rather than drawing you in. I spent half the movie detached from it, parsing it in my head, instead of being absorbed by it.

Even as a standalone flick, I’d rate it just above average: at times entertaining, watchable. Seen as part of the Star Wars heritage, it’s…well, junk.

The movie can bust all the grossing records, makes no difference to me. Admittedly, I wasn’t optimistic going in, but coming out I was as worked up as a Sith Lord on amphetamines.

How does a girl untrained in the ways of the Jedi get to open up a can of whoop-ass on Kylo Ren? How did she even survive one second, let alone prevail in such an encounter? She must’ve somehow downloaded the Force into her brain, Matrix-style. Whatever.

Speaking of Kylo, he comes off like a wimpy, cry-baby disgruntled teenager with dad issues. Really, people? You couldn’t find an actor who looked just a little menacing?

Come to think of it, why does Kylo take off his mask anyway? The whole point of a masked villain is the mystery, the unknown. You fear what you cannot see, etc. Instead, Kylo is super-keen to remove his headgear – twice if memory serves – letting us all know, hey, I’m just a nerd in a funny costume. Now that’s movie-making for you.

Ren, who must now be the brunt of jokes throughout the galaxy – “Hey Kylo, seen any eighteen-year-old girls with a lightsabre lately?” – is gonna need one heck of a makeover in Episode VIII if he’s to convince viewers he’s a bad-ass.

The Resistance, having gone through hell and lost a half-dozen planets, finally tracks down Luke Skywalker, and not so much as a ‘hello’ to Rey when she offers him his weapon? How rude, Luke.

OK, so the guy’s been living in a cave, his people-skills could probably use a little brushing up. Then again, what kind of Jedi Knight forgot to pack his trusted lightsabre on his travels? My theory: the weight of the lightsabre must’ve exceeded the baggage allowance limit on Galactic Airlines. Luke left it behind rather than fork out the extra fee. Jeez, what a cheapskate.

Meantime, R2D2, who for decades fell into sleep mode – depression for droids – snaps out of it just in time to help the Resistance find Luke. Talk about karma.

Special mention goes out to Supreme Leader Snoke, the apparent evil puppet-master, who looks like a character straight out of Lord of the Rings. Director JJ Abrams just couldn’t help himself, could he?

Later, it takes Han Solo and company just minutes to spot Rey, and this in a sprawling facility the size of a planet. They go about their business planting charges with minimal opposition from the First Order. And then fireworks – and pigs – begin to fly.

It’s these implausibilities that speak to the sloppiness. That’s not even mentioning Abrams’ blatant ‘borrowing’ of elements and plot material from the original series. Another Death Star, again? Which the good guys figure out how to blow up, after the fastest brainstorm session in history? And the baddies, who’ve been hoodwinked twice already, never saw it coming? Now that’s just sheer laziness. I mean the Empire. And you, Mr Abrams.

Whichever way you dice it, the movie is one bad call after another. Where originality is required, it is absent. And where use of existing content would have been legitimate, the makers shun it. Take the original musical score by John Williams. It’s awesome, and it’s the signature theme of Star Wars. It’s right there, ready-made on a platter.

Also, since music taps into feelings, and we’re meant to emotionally connect to the original series, what better way than to have used the original score? But no, the geniuses decided they didn’t want it. Go figure. That has got to be one of the most retarded decisions in movie history.

Millions thrown at this picture, years spent in production as well as the post-production process, and this is what they come up with. The movie is rushed – hence the non-sequiturs- and its pacing is off. To say that expectations were shattered would be an understatement. What a scam Hollywood can be. You couldn’t pay me to watch Episode VIII.

But for those vainly clinging to the hope that the big studios can deliver, a suggestion: let the fans make the next movie. This sort of thing is already going on, to an extent, in the video-gaming industry. Or, failing that, give the gig to a competent filmmaker. Ridley Scott, anyone?

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